About plants, animals and landscapes: Serbian mythology

Plants die quietly. Only smells remain behind them. Those scents float – pregnant, heavy and wailing – float and bend over the earth, disappear in the air and return with the winds, like haunted souls without a home. In a freshly cut forest, on a mowed meadow, you can go crazy from them, from the smell, as evening falls. In the twilight, they pour in – the smells, the poor and disenchanted souls of the plants – they pour in like invisible waterfalls, they spin and turn, they suffer. In the smell of dried mint, wormwood, basil, fallen oak, its bark and moist heart, leaves that close, twist and dry, the last flickers of life are hidden, which will not surrender to the forces of death. It happens even when plants wither, when they dry up and die for a long, endlessly long time.

And the animals leave in wonder. Tamed with trust, wild with disbelief in the eye. Boundless life is in them and that eye can never be extinguished. Only the legs still move in the air, hooves, paws, they still want to run, but there is no land and their wings flap. Headless bodies fly and thrash about and hearts flutter like crazy strings.

Who will write a prayer, one for forgiveness, for cursed, killed and injured animals, who will lower their face to the departing scales, hair and feathers, to the pink skin of beautiful pigs?

Those deaths will remain incidental, something with which one lives in secret agreement, as with a lurking, nagging toothache, something everyday, ordinary, simple and shabby. So we will pretend not to notice how mountains disappear and forests disappear, how rivers stink and their waters glisten oily, covered with dirty scum from which the bellies of suffocated fish peek out. Dead fish float – corpses with gaping mouths, convulsed in their last yawn – and the dead waters rock them like fatal cradles. When did we, the worst of the worst, become masters of the world, when we managed to make even death in our own image, without hope of rebirth, of the eternal flowering of life? Without hope.

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